Appealing an Assessment
You have the right to appeal your property assessment. This appeal process starts with the Board of Review and is described below.
What are the Responsibilities of the Board of Review?
The Assessor turns the assessment roll over to the Board of Review, who can increase or decrease any improper assessment. The Board has no control over millage rates or property taxes.
Who Are the Members of the Board of Review?
Charters vary regarding membership requirements. Some communities use elected officials. Generally, the membership is made of resident taxpayers of the community.
When Does the Board Meet?
Generally the Board of Review meets in March. It is best to check the schedule of your community.
Are the Meetings Open to the Public?
Under the Open Meetings Act, anyone can attend the meetings, including members of the press.
Who May File an Appeal?
Any person may file an appeal regarding the assessment of any property within the Board’s jurisdiction. By law, non-resident property owners can appeal by letter. Some local governments have made provisions for residents to appeal by letter also. Please contact your assessing office for the rules in your community.
Most communities will allow an agent, someone you have designated, to appeal in your behalf.
Most often the property owner appeals in person. Many communities schedule appointments. If you plan to appear, please call to determine the schedule and requirements.
What Type of Appeals Will the Board Hear?
The Board of Review has the authority to act on appeals of:
- Classification: This is roughly the equivalent to zoning or use. The six classifications are Agricultural, Commercial, Developmental, Industrial, Residential, and Timber Cutover.
- Status: Certain properties, such as Churches, are tax exempt. Sometimes there are unusual situations that create appeals.
- Equity: All properties within the jurisdiction are to be assessed at the same ratio; 50% of True Cash Value.
- Hardship: Poverty stricken property owners can request tax assistance from the Board of Review. Household financial documentation will be necessary.
- Valuation: This type is by far the bulk of the appeals. It is important to remember that neither the assessor nor the Board of Review can affect the millages or taxes. They can change an assessment if shown that it exceeds 50% of True Cash Value.
How Can I Make an Effective Appeal of Value?
The taxpayer must give evidence to show that the assessment is incorrect. The Board of Review needs good reasons to alter an assessment. It is imperative to be able to answer the questions "What do you think your property is worth?" and "What are you basing that opinion on?".
All assessments are to be based on the sales of similar properties. You may hire a professional appraiser, or you can look at sales in your neighborhood and compare them to your home. Most assessors’ offices will give you sales information. But remember this is your appeal, and the paperwork should be done by you.
How Can I Review and Compare Sales?
For example, let’s say that in your neighborhood a home sold for $80,000 and is identical to yours except that is has no garage and you have a two-car garage. You have determined that your garage is worth $4,000 to $6,000. Another home sold for $96,000. It has the same house and garage as yours, but has an extra lot. Land sales show that the value of this extra lot is $8,000.
sale 1 $80,000 + $4,000 = $84,000
+ $6,000 = $86,000
sale 2 $96,000 - $8,000 = $88,000.
These two sales indicate a proper assessment on your property should be between $42,000 and $44,000.
Other recent sales in your area should be reviewed the same way. You need to be especially careful if the sales are different from your home in size, age or quality. This will require some time and thought, but the hardest part will be to remain objective.
Are the Board of Review Decisions Permanent?
No. The decisions are binding only for the current assessment year.
How Will I Know of the Board’s Decision?
The Board of Review will probably not give the decision at the time of the hearing, but will mail the decision as soon as possible. Along with this notification, will be information about the Michigan Tax Tribunal
Can I Appeal the Board’s Decision?
Only those assessments reviewed by the Board can be appealed to the Michigan Tax Tribunal. Their appeal deadline is June 30th.
Should I Protest?
The Board of Review functions in many ways like a court although its procedures are less formal. Like a court, it has the authority to decide on certain issues based on evidence. In deciding whether to appeal your assessment to the Board of Review, you should first answer these two questions:
- Does your protest involve an issue that the Board of Review has authority to decide.
- Do you have supporting evidence?
How Should I Present My Protest?
If you are protesting on the value of your property, you should be prepared to justify why your property would not sell for twice the assessed value.
If you are appealing based on hardship, documentation will be necessary. You should contact your local unit for details.
The better information you bring to the Board, the better they will be able to make a fair determination. Keep the following points in mind:
- prepare a concise appeal
- use valid documentation
- stick to the facts
- be organized and objective
Remember, the Board of Review is for you, and can be effective.